What is Diversity and Inclusion?

Posted on Mar. 10, 2021  /  State Council Director Message  /   0

On March 6th, I had the opportunity to talk about Diversity and Inclusion with our SHRM Spring Certification participants. Even for me, this topic ignites a set of beliefs, customs, and ways of thinking based on my background and upbringing.

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) initiatives are normally housed in HR, many of us have a conceptual understanding of what D&I looks like, but are often perplexed as to how D&I works and what does this mean for the 21st Century HR Professional?

What is D&I (from the 2021 SHRM Learning System)?

  • Diversity = “similarities and differences between individuals, accounting for all aspects of one’s personality and individual identity”, representation or the makeup of a company
  • Inclusion = “the extent to which each person in an organization feels welcomed, respected, supported and valued as a team member”, how well the representation is valued and integrated into the company

“Diverse perspectives available to the organization is of strategic value only if everyone is encouraged to share them.”

Together D&I can correlate to increased engagement, productivity, retention, and a higher profit margin. Having a diverse workforce = some parts orange, some parts blue, some parts red, yellow and green to form an intricate pattern of vibrant synergy pieced together to form patterns and themes.

According to the Kaleidoscope Group…

  • Diversity and inclusion increase a sense of fairness in the workplace. These positive attributes of a workplace instill feelings of employee satisfaction, which in turn can influence commitment and productivity levels.
  • Diversity in the workplace has been shown to increase a company’s profits. In addition, by promoting an inclusive culture, companies improve their image and can experience an increase in their ratings, making them a popular pick amongst customers. This can provide organizations with a competitive edge against their non-diverse counterparts, which may not be as reputable for this reason.
  • The Peterson Institute for International Economics states that companies with 30% of its leaders being female earn 6% more in profits compared to those without female leadership, indicating strong firm performance.

D&I also includes managing a multi-cultural and multi-generational workforce. A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to complete a Workforce Readiness Gap Analysis. We had enough data to know that if we didn’t diversify and enlarge inclusivity, we would experience a severe gap in our talent pool. Through focus group meetings, employees representing a cross-section of the workforce (diversity) and all demographics (inclusion), came together with a sense of purpose to formulate a new mentorshiptrain the trainer program (D&I strategic initiative). The shared mission of the focus group was to address workforce gaps (technical skills) utilizing existing employees. This meant that the span of roles and responsibilities would be enlarged (creating retention opportunities for employees) and those employees who were planning to retire (felt their job knowledge would be passed down in a timely and organized manner).

Through this D&I initiative, different (diverse) opinions and thoughts were shared and integrated (inclusion) into the mentorshiptrain the trainer program. The company was able to retain key employees, complete several procedural manuals and restore historical pieces of information that would be helpful to the company in the future.

D&I isn’t just about visible traits that we can see, but about how inclusive and diverse we can be in a variety of strategic situations.


As always stay safe,

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